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Heat-Bucks Outlook

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No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks

Series Price: Miami -6500, Milwaukee +3500

Series Format: Miami, 2-2-1-1-1

Game 1 - Sunday, April 21 (7:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 2 - Tuesday, April 23 (7:30 PM EST, NBA TV)
Game 3 - Thursday, April 25 (7:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 4 - Sunday, April 28 (3:30 PM EST, ABC)
Game 5* - Tuesday, April 30 (TBD)
Game 6* - Thursday, May 2 (TBD)
Game 7* - Thursday, May 4 (TBD)

HEAD TO HEAD COMPARISONS
TEAM SU ATS HOME AWAY OVER/UNDER PPG DPPG
Miami Heat 66-16 46-36 37-4 29-12 42-39-1 102.9 95.0
Milwaukee Bucks 38-44 37-45 21-20 17-24 39-41-2 98.9 100.4
2012-13 Head to Head Meetings
Date Results Total
04/09/13 Milwaukee 83 @ Miami 94 (-6.5) UNDER 197.5
03/15/13 Miami 107 (-5.5) @ Milwaukee 94 UNDER 202
12/29/12 Miami 85 @ Milwaukee 104 (+4.5) UNDER 199.5
11/21/12 Milwaukee 106 @ Miami 113 (-9.5) OT OVER 202.5

Skinny: The Heat cruised through to the best record in the regular season with a 66-16 mark, as Miami looks to defend its title. The question for the Heat at this point is not if they will make the Finals again, but in how many games? Miami takes on the only sub-.500 team in the playoffs as Milwaukee qualified with a 38-44 mark.

Since Super Bowl Sunday, Erik Spoelstra's team has lost just twice, while putting together a remarkable 27-game winning streak that stretched from February 3 through March 25. The two defeats in this stretch came to Chicago and New York, two teams the Heat can possibly face in the next two rounds. Miami is currently riding a nine-game hot streak, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have each sat out a handful of times in this stretch.

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The Bucks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when Milwaukee was bounced in seven games by Atlanta. The task will be significantly tougher this time around, the Bucks stumbled down the stretch by losing 13 of their final 16 games. Due to the mediocrity in bottom of the conference, Milwaukee was able to clinch a playoff berth in spite of this awful stretch. The Bucks' defense allowed at least 100 points in 16 of the final 21 contests, but Milwaukee hit the 'under' in seven of its last nine road games.

Head-to-Head Matchups: Miami captured three of four meetings in the season series, including both at the American Airlines Arena. In late November, the Heat held off the Bucks in overtime, 113-106, as Milwaukee managed to cash as 9 ½-point underdogs. The game was set to finish 'under' the total, but a James layup in the final minute forced overtime, erasing a seven-point deficit with five minutes remaining in regulation. The Heat squandered an early 18-point advantage, but James, Wade, and Bosh combined to score 90 points.

The Bucks dealt the Heat a 19-point whipping on December 29 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, 104-85 as 4 ½-point home 'dogs. Miami played with no rest following a loss at Detroit, as its legs went out in a 35-14 fourth quarter surge by Milwaukee. The Bucks shot just 40% from the floor, but Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee with 25 points for their fourth win in the past six meetings with the Heat dating back to 2011.

Miami dominated Milwaukee in the final two meetings, including a 107-94 thumping of the Bucks in Wisconsin in mid-March. The Heat limited the Bucks to just 37% shooting, while taking a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. In the last matchup of the season, Wade and Bosh sat out for Miami, but the Heat cruised to a 94-83 home triumph as 6 ½-point favorites. For the exception of 30 points by Jennings, not one other Buck scored in double-figures.

Betting Notes: The Heat lost just four times at home this season, while posting an 8-8 ATS record at the AAA since the All-Star break. Miami will likely be a double-digit favorite each time at home, as the Heat put together a 7-11 ATS record in that pointspread role. Since the start of February, Miami compiled a solid 9-4 ATS record as road 'chalk,' while winning 17 of its past 18 on the highway.

The Bucks were awful when receiving points at home this season, going 3-7 ATS in 10 opportunities. One of those covers came against the Heat in December, but the scheduling situation favored Milwaukee greatly. As a road 'dog, the Bucks were an average 10-10 ATS since the start of January, while losing nine of the last 10 straight-up away from Wisconsin.

Series Outlook: The Heat will advance to the second round, but will it be a sweep? Since the Big Three came together in 2010-11, Miami has not pulled off a four-game sweep in eight playoff series. This may be the time where the Heat won't mess around and let Brooklyn and Chicago slaughter each other in the 4/5 matchup. Miami moves to the second round with four wins in four games.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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